Netflix is a great way for me to sample TV series. It gives me the chance to try different shows at the same time and, if I don’t like one, I mercilessly abandon it without any guilt.
Not so long ago, one that I started watching and quit during the second episode was The 100. As a science-fiction lover, I am prepared to give any story in that genre a chance. But this one swiftly proved to be very shallow and typical teenage fodder. What really surprised me was that, afterwards, I kept thinking about it – much more so than the latest season of House Of Cards.
Why? The plot is about the last remaining humans, living in a spaceship. The earth is uninhabitable due to chemical wars, radiation and contamination. But now this last generation faces a big challenge: they are running out of oxygen and cannot survive on their ship for more than three months. Do they return to Earth? Do they go and look for new planets?
So what does this have to do with our industry? I think that, for the first time, we are running out of oxygen and the clock is ticking. Over the years, I have heard many gurus talk about the end of storytelling, the end of TV, the end of traditional media… the end of so many things. They may have been right in some respects, but the only certainty is that our business model – the real oxygen of our industry – is starting to disappear.
This is nothing new and many of us have long talked about new compensation models, intellectual property and success-based fees – or just moaned in the press about how clients should pay more for our ideas. But getting back to the 100 anal-ogy – it’s like we are running out of oxygen and still trying to look for a solution in the spaceship.
In search of new planets
Disruption does not usually start from within an industry, so why do we still believe we can save it from the inside?
Just as the ad industry is being disrupted by outsiders such as tech companies, social networks and start-ups, so we should do the same in other industries. It’s time to search for new planets, to look for solutions outside the marketing world. The current leaders of our spaceship (the big ad networks) will be consuming all the remaining oxygen in the next few years and are not considering the next generations.
I believe every agency today has a responsibility, not only for its own employees to grow, but for the ad industry itself and for future generations. We need to be like explorers, looking for fertile grounds where our ideas and know-how can have value and develop.
Independent agencies are best-suited to this mission. We have the freedom and flexibility to experiment, to customise our structures and to try new models in each project without having to worry about the opinion of any global C-something officer.
With all that we have learned from advertising, we have the power to disrupt other industries. Consulting, showbiz, architecture, media, video games, Hollywood… who knows? We are great at divining insights, understanding the pulse of pop culture and creating "solutions" to problems. Design thinking and lean start-up methods are the ABC for disruptors and not very different from the typical creative processes we use.
It’s all possible: we at Castro began this trip to the unknown years ago and have thankfully found some interesting planets. Some of our experimental projects are intrastartups, incubators within companies, showbiz products, tech developments, breakthrough creative processes and so on.
We haven’t found the "new Earth" so far and sometimes don’t know exactly where we are going. But we knew we had little chance of survival in that spaceship.
At a glanceFounded 2010
Principals Pedro Saleh, co-founder and executive producer; Nicolás Pimentel, co-founder and innovation director
Locations Buenos Aires. Close partnerships in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, the US
Declaration of independenceWhat independence gives us Freedom, experimentation, constant mutation.
The most important thing I have learned in the past year Stay small. Stay smart.
The most cutting-edge tech we’re using Right now, we are into some projects with telematics at the heart and we are learning a lot from it.